‘Covid virus does not yet have a seasonality or act predictably’: WHO’s epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove

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Globally, over the last four weeks, 26,722,228 new Coronavirus cases and 62,892 new deaths were reported to the World Health Organization (WHO), which is “a 15 per cent increase in new cases and a +35 per cent increase in new deaths over the reporting period”, informed WHO’s epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove in a Twitter thread. According to the estimates, WHO expects cases to “continue to occur given the limited use of public health and social measures” but Covid-19 hospitalisations, deaths, and long covid can be minimised, it noted.

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What do we know about the variants so far?

While Omicron BA5 is the dominant circulating variant of concern right now, the epidemiologist noted that reduced surveillance, testing, and sequencing globally is making our ability to track known and detect new variants much more difficult.

covid vaccination Vaccination is a must (representative) (Express Photo by Nirmal Harindran)

Here are details of Omicron sub-variants

Kerkhove also suggested that there will be more variants with “such intense circulation”. “This virus does not yet have a seasonality or act predictably. Future variants will be more transmissible, may have further immune escape but we do not know if they will be more or less severe,” she said on the thread.

What can be done?

Early testing, the right clinical care, and treatments and vaccination administered by trained, protected and respected work force are some of the measures to save lives.

Vaccination amongst those most at risk in all countries is not as high as it should be. #VaccinEquity is not just a hashtag,” Kerkhove mentioned.

Meanwhile, what can help?

Infections and risk of long covid can be reduced with simple measures, Kerkhove noted. “Covid-19 vaccines are working incredibly well at preventing severe disease. Get vaccinated and get all recommended doses when it’s your turn. Governments need to focus on reaching at missed risk people. Wear a mask while indoors, spend time outdoors, ventilate, test, seek care,” she added.

Dr Shuchin Bajaj, Founder Director, Ujala Cygnus Group of Hospitals told indianexpress.com that more than the government’s responsibility, it is now an individual’s responsibility to protect themselves. “We need to get ourselves vaccinated, display prudence while celebrating festivals so that we don’t gather around in large numbers. We must make sure that if we are not feeling well, we must self-isolate and not expose others as well. We eat nutritious and healthy diet to keep our immunity up. Exercise outdoors regularly. All of these measures will count towards ensuring we stay healthy. If there is any nagging health issues, one should seek timely medical treatment,” noted Dr Bajaj.

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